Since arriving back in Sydney with only two knives (a Kyocera Kyotops and a handmade high-carbon paring knife, if you must know), I’ve been eating a helluva lot of Asian food. This has been for two reasons: I have missed the proper stuff big time, and I’ve been writing a whole stack of recipes for an Asian food company.
Our first day in Sydney, after landing at an ungodly 5am, included dumplings with friends at Zilver and a bag full of chilled Thai meals, to eat in a coma state later that evening, from Mae Cheng groceries on Campbell St, Haymarket (the caramelised deep-fried catfish was fantastic). Since then we’ve revisited the marvellous Spice I Am twice (the original is more interesting than the Balmain restaurant we reckon), raced into Red Lantern’s new venture on Riley St (it’s not just gorgeous, but produces singing dishes such as jellyfish and poached chicken), and scoffed pho in Marrickville at Ben Ngu. All this frantic chilli-laced munching made Ben ask if Sydney only served Asian food. And then I started developing a whole lot of recipes for Asian Home Gourmet, and not only our meals out on the town, but our meals at home (on our laps, it must be admitted – we’ve yet to get a table…) became almost exclusively Asian.
Writing recipes for a market who don’t want to spend over 30 minutes cooking dinner means that I’ve taken a lot of recipes that would normally use slow-cooked methods and changed them to make them as fast to prepare as possible. One that worked particularly well moved from a slow-braised pork neck in caramelised sugar and soy, to cubes of gorgeous Feather and Bone Melanda Park pork loin and fat, fried to brown and render fat before the addition of rock sugar and soy to caramelise and then Thai red curry paste, rice wine and a little water. In the background you can see my latest favourite noodle, Taiwanese song hua ban, which has a pulled, frilly edge and wonderful spring to the bite.
Ben has been assured that the next few weeks will involve foods other than just those from the Asian continent. And so they will, of course, because we’re heading back to London.